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'Dharam Sankat Mein' as also box office prospects

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A remake of the 2010 British film, The InfidelDharam Sankat Mein is one more in the line of films depicting Baba-led sects and sub sects and juxtaposing one religion against another. Viacom18, one of the makers of the film, promotes it with a tagline: From The Studio Which Brought OMG- Oh My God. This, along with the fact that like OMG, this film also stars Paresh Rawal as the protagonist, makes a comparison inevitable.

Rawal is a successful caterer in Ahmedabad tending to most big weddings and events. He is an atheist yet he has a problem. His son is in love with Auritra Ghosh, whose father and rest of the family are the followers of Neel baba (Naseeruddin Shah). Auritra is stuck between her love and her father’s choice of a suitor for her. She knows her father would prefer to marry her only into a religious family, especially one following the ways of Neel baba.

Rawal, who wakes up to call of Azaan from a nearby Masjid, which irritates him, starts his day by playing a pop number by his favourite Sikh singer to change his mood. His son pesters him to come visit Neel Dharma sessions, if for nothing else, only to please his prospective father in law. Now, Rawal is a family man, who loves his wife and kids and every time he decides to comply with his son’s wishes, something comes in the way.

His character has an inherent hatred for Muslims and the early morning Azaan and his verbal scraps with his Muslim neighbour, Annu Kapoor, only add to his discomfiture for the community. Annu’s car is always parked in the way making it impossible for Rawal to manoeuvre his car out. For every small reason, Annu, a lawyer by profession, sends legal notices to Rawal as well as to other society members.

After Rawal’s mother demise, his wife keeps reminding him to go check her bank locker. One fine day, Rawal decides to do just that. And therein he finds a document, which turns his world upside down. He finds an adoption certificate and it emerges that he was born to Muslim parents, later left with an orphanage from where a Hindu Brahmin family adopted him.

Rawal raids the orphanage registration office, breaks into their cupboards and gets hold of his file. He learns the name of his father. He now seeks help from Annu to help him find his biological father, wanting to meet him once and find out what made him desert him. Ahmedabad Muslim community is not small by any means and finding Rawal’s father after 50 years is worse than finding a needle in a haystack! Surprisingly, Annu does it in a day! Rawal’s father is counting his last days at a community sanatorium.

Rawal visits the sanatorium but the Imaam there, Murli Sharma, won’t allow him. The reason? As it were his father was on last stage and seeing that his son is a Hindu, he would die of shock! Rawal seeks Annu’s help to learn the Islamic ways to once see his father. This goes on every time Rawal tries to meet his father as Murli blocks him till the matter lands in a court where Annu fights on behalf of Rawal.

On the other hand, Rawal’s attempts at placating his son’s to be in-laws backfires. As he tries to find his identity between a Hindu and a Muslim, he loses his family and his standing in life. While his family leaves him, nobody wants to do business with his reputed catering service.

That’s where the comparison between comes up between Dharam Sankat Mein and OMG: Oh My God. Though Rawal’s problems are same in Dharam Sankat Mein as in OMG, the latter was a debate about the very existence of God. As a film, it had an excellent material, better cast and a great screenplay where the court scenes stole the show not to forget its star power. Dharam Sankat Mein on its part, has no solid issues, while it highlights a fake Baba, it is mainly concerned about Islam bashing. The court case here is muted with no arguments played up. The final exposure of Shah is too stagey to carry any appeal. What also goes against the film is that Shah’s part in the film has been used a bit too much to promote the film which, though looks interesting the first time you watch it on screen, becomes monotonous the next time and thereafter it is forced on you.

This is a Rawal vehicle all along, though his character or his part is not as strong as OMG. Just seeing him on screen is a treat. Annu Kapoor gives one of his best for the third time after Mr India and Vicky Donor. Shah in a cameo overacts. The supporting cast is okay. While the direction is just passable, the adaptation from The Infidel is too loose to merit a mention. Dialogue is mundane. Music has not been blended well. Editing is amiss.

Dharam Sankat Mein has not opened well and with word of mouth not being in favour, it will disappoint.

Producers: Viacom 18, Sajjad Chunawala, Shariqu Patel.

Director: Fuwad Khan.

Cast: Rawal Rawal, Annu Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah.

‘Ek Paheli Leela’: Rides on Sunny Leone

Ek Paheli Leela is a reincarnation story. By casting Sunny Leone, the makers make their intentions clear that the genre is just an excuse and their idea is to cash in on Leone’s skin show. There are people out there who expect her to shed whatever skimpy clothes she wears someday!

Meera (Sunny Leone) is a super model having descended from Italy for a shoot in Rajasthan. She has a phobia for air travel having survived a plane crash in which she had lost both her parents. However, her agent, Andy, has made a commitment to shoot in Rajasthan and hence she has to travel.

In Rajasthan while she is shooting, a local royal, Mohit Ahlawat, falls for her and finally also wins her over. They both get married.

Meanwhile, Jay Bhanushali, has his own story. He has moved into a new house and since then, he has been having these dreams of his past making him wake up suddenly. To solve the problem of his dreams, which deprive him of restful sleep, Jay meets up with a guru. He is informed by the guru that he has been reborn because his love 300 years back had remained unrequited. He was in love with Leela but had not been able to marry her because of an evil man, Rahul Dev, who was besotted with her and had even created an indestructible statue for her.

Jay proceeds instantly to Rajasthan to meet Leela and tell her about their past lives. Here, Jay realizes that Leela, of his past life, is now a super model named Meera and is married to Mohit. The rest is about convincing Meera about their love three centuries ago and dealing with those who destroyed their love.

The story is predictable as all past life love stories are similar. Direction is fair though length is an impediment. Leone is not known for her histrionics and distractions are provided with glamorous costumes and a horde of songs composed by half a dozen music makers; some of this are already popular. Ahlawat is good while Bhanushali is passable. Dev is his usual self.

Ek Paheli has managed a decent opening and it also caters to single screen audience. The film is likely to sail safe.

Producers: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Ahmed Khan, Shaira Khan.

Director: Bobby Khan.

Cast: Sunny Leone, Jay Bhanushali, Mohit Ahlawat, Rajniesh Duggal, Rahul Dev, Jas Arora, Shivani Tanksale, VJ Andy.

‘Barefoot To Goa’: Direction shows indulgence

Barefoot To Goa is a road film of sorts with the roadies being two young kids. A brother sister duo, Prakhar Morchhale and Saara Nahar, are not at ease with their mother, Purva Parag, a dominating householder. Her husband and the father of these two kids, Kuldeep Dubey has little interest in them and even lesser interest in the matters of the house.

The kids have a good memory of their paternal grandmother while their mother, Purva wants no hint of her in their house. All the besan ladoos she sends for her son and grand kids are consigned to the garbage bin by her before her husband or kids can see them while the letters are hidden in the closet.

The kids are fond of their grandmother and keep asking about her, while their unnecessarily villainous mother puts them off the subject. The husband is indifferent not having the courage to argue on why, while her mother can stay with them and his mother can’t.

The kids, kin on meeting their loving grandmother, accidentally (read contrived) come across their grandmother’s letters to their father, which their mother has hidden in her closet. They don’t know whether they should inform their father of the mother’s guiles or not. Instead, the kids just decide to go meet their grandmother.

They run away from home after breaking their piggy bank to go met their grandma in Goa. The rest of the film is about their travel and travails till they reach Goa, which reads like any of the children’s adventure stories from the Famous Five and Enid Blyton kind of children’s literature.

However, the makers, in an attempt to make this simple, unimaginative film into a classic, screw it up totally with an unpleasant, unnecessary unhappy ending. Totally illogical when it comes to storytelling involving kids.

The only noteworthy performers in the film are Nahar, who excels and Mochhale, who is a natural. Rest pass muster. Direction shows indulgence. Cinematography is pleasant.

Producer: Praveen Morchhale, Satyajit Chourasiya.

Director: Praveen Morchhale.

Cast: Saara Nahar, Prakhar Morchhale, Farrukha Jaffar, Purva Parag, Kuldeep Dubey.

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